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Domains in Ferroelectric Nanodots

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Almost free-standing single crystal mesoscale and nanoscale dots of ferroelectric BaTiO3 have been made by direct focused ion beam patterning of bulk single crystal material. The domain structures which appear in these single crystal dots, after cooling through the Curie temperature, were observed to form into quadrants, with each quadrant consisting of fine 90° stripe domains. The reason that these rather complex domain configurations form is uncertain, but we consider and discuss three possibilities for their genesis: first, that the quadrant features initially form to facilitate field-closure, but then develop 90° shape compensating stripe domains in order to accommodate disclination stresses; second, that they are the result of the impingement of domain packets which nucleate at the sidewalls of the dots forming “Forsbergh” patterns (essentially the result of phase transition kinetics); and third, that 90° domains form to conserve the shape of the nanodot as it is cooled through the Curie temperature but arrange into quadrant packets in order to minimize the energy associated with uncompensated surface charges (thus representing an equilibrium state). While the third model is the preferred one, we note that the second and third models are not mutually exclusive.

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